ATLANTA—It probably doesn’t seem like it to a skeptical fan base, but Derrick Rose is on pace to play his highest percentage of games since his 2010-11 MVP season, even if he misses tonight’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Rose is questionable with right hamstring tendinitis, and he could miss his second straight game with the recovery.
“He obviously knows his body very well,” said Hoiberg at Atlanta’s Philips Arena following the morning shootaround, in which Rose did everything but the walkthrough.
“Something flared up (at Tuesday’s practice), it was three games in four nights,” Hoiberg said. “He had some swelling in that hamstring. It’s better than it was but he’s still got some soreness.”
Having played in 48 of 56 games, Rose is participating at an 85.7 percent clip, which would put him on track to play around 70 games this season. If you would’ve told him before the season he would play 69 or 70 games, he would’ve gladly accepted the outcome.
“Hell yeah, hell yeah,” Rose told CSNChicago.com after his session with the media. “Especially with everything I’ve been through, the year I have coming up (next year) and just everything. I’m grateful to be out here, appreciative to be out there.
“I wish I could play in every game, I wish I could’ve played all 82. Realistically I gotta bring it back down to reality and know that my body is a little bit differently.”
Breaking his orbital bone on the first day of training camp, along with the “general soreness” or “hamstring tendinitis” terms has brought upon the naysayers who believe Rose just willfully sits out games despite being healthy enough to play, but virtually everyone involved with the Bulls trusts him when he says he’s hurting.
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After all, this February has been his best since March 2012, the lockout season that ended in the first of his debilitating knee injuries. He averaged 24.3 points and 9.4 assists in seven games that month.
This February, he’s at 21.9 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds in eight games so far. In three games since the All-Star break, Rose has taken it up another notch, with 26 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 57 percent shooting, 50 from three and 92 percent from the line.
In that three game sample size, his offensive rating is a Curry-like 124 points per 100 possessions.
With that production, Hoiberg isn’t qualming too much about Rose’s body fighting back a bit.
“He had a pretty good load in three games in four nights,” Hoiberg said. “He had a great burst, his energy was excellent. We’re not putting any risk out there. Our doctors and trainers don’t seem too concerned.”
Never one to nail himself down to firm expectations, understandable considering the way he’s career has gone, Rose just wanted to play more than he has in years past.
“I never put in my head a number I wanted to get to,” Rose told CSNChicago.com. “My thing was playing and how many games it is, it’s what it is. I just wanted it to be more than the years I got injured. It could’ve been 20, 25, 70, 75, it really didn’t matter as long as I’m on the floor, that’s all I needed.”
He’s done that. He’ll likely surpass the 51 games he played last season, and this is right around the time he underwent meniscus surgery on his right knee in 2015.
With the way he’s playing, he isn’t too worried about not being able to regain his rhythm whenever he does step back on the floor.
“Not at all. It’s a process,” Rose said. “I already put it into my mind that the year would be a long year. All I could do was work on my body, control what I could control and the rest is out of my hands.”
Hoiberg doesn’t believe it’ll be a long-term issue and neither do the team doctors, so as long as Rose can finish the season on his feet and not have the prospect of being on his back at a surgeon’s table, it’s a success.
“Yeah, just play,” Rose told CSNChicago.com. “As long as I know I gave it my all and I played as hard as I can, I could care less what happened at the end of the year, knowing I gave it my all.”